‘Black Girls Rock’ Awardee Fought Against Violence, Now Fights For Life
**UPDATE as of August 2015**:
“I kept my diagnosis on the down low because I didn’t want anyone to focus on me instead of what the issues really are. If I’m off the front line, someone needs to step up on the front line and advocate for our people and our young guys in and out of the schools. I found out I had 30 days to live. I was going to an oncologist and this doctor appeared in his office out of nowhere and said he was doing a new study at the Cancer Center in Oakbrook and needed some candidates. I went to see him and he did a whole work up and discovered I had multiple myeloma, a blood cancer. He also saw that it had become aggressive. I went through a long process. I had chemo, some blood marrow work, and had to produce stem cells. At one point, they connected a 3 prong piece that looked like a cable wire to my heart. I used to joke and say if you need free cable, I’ll come and hook you up. It was hard to for me to look in the mirror… Where am I now? I’m in a much better place. My boots are strapped and I am ready to go.”
Now, despite the cancer diagnosis, despite her chemo treatments, Ameena is still out in the streets advocating for Black lives and putting an end to violence in the Black community.
“I’m pretty much where I have always been. Still in the streets making sure our young people are educated about how our history has set up our present. There are a lot of things that have happened in our city and nation that are unacceptable. I’m not trying to go after the perpetrators and hunt them down and let them know they have done wrong. I want to educate our young people on how their actions will get them hunted down.
These days I am doing the same work on a national level. I speak and coach. I have mentoring programs in our community and our schools. With my community, I have a food pantry called Protector of the Bread that operates on Saturday.
I am also in a learning process in my life about who and whose I am. God continuously shows me humbly and mercifully who I am and for that I am grateful.”
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A community activist who fought for her peace in inner city neighborhoods is now fighting for her life.
Mother and wife Ameena Matthews has dedicated her life and career to peace building and social change. She has worked for six years with the Chicago Project for Violence Prevention’s Ceasfire Program in the University of Illinois at Chicago’s School of Public Health. Matthews is a Senior Violence Interrupter whose job is to mediate conflict on the front end to stop the transmission of violence from one person to another. Matthews, the daughter of former Chicago gang leader Jeff Fort, comes to the aid of the mother of Derrion Albert, a Chicago high school student whose death made national headlines when it was captured on videotape.
Because of her efforts, Nationally-Recognized program, “Black Girls Rock”, on BET, awarded Matthews for her tireless dedication she shows to end youth violence. Her acceptance speech received numerous accolades and shares via social media– all of which were filled with praise about how passionate she is. Among all of these accolades, her health started to deteriorate.
Not to long ago Ameena was diagnosed with multiple myeloma. According to her GoFundMe.com page, she has determinedly fought the disease with the help of Allah, her guides Shaykh Nazim and her husband Shaykh Abdur Rashied, her children, her grandmother, and her spiritual family Al-Hafeez. However when she needed it most, Ameena has been made to pay a high COBRA premium as the result of Ceasefire/Cure Violence FIRING her. Ameena has been the face and fighting force behind Ceasefire/Cure Violence, and they have tossed her aside and taken The one thing that will save her life..her HEALTH INSURANCE. The State of Illinois has also been no help in aiding her with health coverage maintaining that she is not eligible.
“I just feel like why? Why? Why did it pick me?” Ameena asks.
Ameena is saving-up for a critical treatment, a high-dose chemo followed by a stem cell transplant. Doctors say this procedure will extend Ameena’s life by about three years.